Fact-checking site Snopes is hoping to transition away from its dependence on advertising. So it is asking its supporters to help the brand grow in 2020.
Launching a new membership model in early 2020, the company, which is projected to bring in just over $3 million this year in revenue, is hoping to transition away from its dependence on advertising and be mainly funded by reader revenue. The one-year founding membership starts at $30 and will give members access to a community board where they can contact Snopes’ editors, ad-free browsing, a members-only biweekly newsletter and, starting at $60, branded swag.
“We spent the past two years building something in the media landscape that’s scalable. We just need the capital from our readership to kick off the growth,” said Green, who spearheaded the coding effort. He said that this new tech product will allow the company to gain the capital it needs to stop depending on programmatic advertising, which accounts for approximately 60% of its overall revenue. It will also allow it to grow beyond a fact-checking site and launch new platforms, like a forthcoming news aggregator platform, Snopes News.
“I want ad revenue to be more obscure,” said Green. “Advertising today is antithetical to the Snopes brand and the core user experience and latency [of advertising] undermines the Snopes mission.”
When asked what percentage of revenue he anticipates advertising will contribute a year from now, he said, “We have been in survival mode for so long; it’s hard to think about the future.”
Green said that Snopes has had approximately 50,000 contributions since its launch in 1994. Over 42,000 of those contributions have come from the publisher’s GoFundMe page in the past two years, however, which totaled $1.5 million.
Robbie Kellman Baxter, founder of the membership consultancy Peninsula Strategies, said she thinks that Green’s goal of signing up 13,000 members is reasonable, though she said it’s difficult to make meaningful benchmarks for membership models that publishers haven’t tested before.